Before we start with comparing two very interesting phones, it is equally important to know a bit about both the companies- Xiaomi and Honor. While Xiaomi has crashed the party to become no. 1 in the smartphone rankings on the back of the Redmi Note 4’s stunning success, the Honor moniker from Huawei has had a resurgence of sorts too, with a slew of launches across segments suddenly making it a serious contender in various segments. The very fact, that today the recently launched Honor 9 Lite is up against the successor of the immensely popular Note 4- the Mi Note 5, says something about the effort and planning that the Honor brand has invested into getting it right for the Indian market.
Let’s start by talking about the key differentiator that plays a key role in consumer decision making in in this segment. The design language. While the Redmi Note 5 plays it safe by going for the ubiquitous metal unibody, the Honor 9 lite redefines finesse by providing a dual 2.5D glass design with a mirrored finish at the back. That definitely gives it an edge in the looks department in a category where you can struggle to distinguish between brands.
Moving on to the display, Redmi Note 5 gives you an 18:9 aspect ratio, and on paper has the larger display at 5.99 inches versus the Honor 9 Lite’s 5.65 inches. However, the Honor 9 lite packs 427 ppi, edging the Redmi Note 5’s 403 ppi screen to even things up. Things get more interesting when we use the phones, where you will realize that while the Honor 9 Lite is optimized for App scaling, the Redmi Note 5 isn’t, nullifying most of the advantage of the slightly larger screen.
Another interesting area where the Honor 9 Lite wins points is for the operating system, as its custom EMUI comes on an Android Oreo version.It’s an edge that will be very handy a few months down the line, especially if the Redmi Note 5 fails to get an update quickly enough.
Moving on to another contentious area, the cameras. This is where the Honor series have been thumping competition for sometime now, and the advantage is carried into this comparison too. Justifying its slight premium to the Redmi Note 5, the Honor 9 Lite comes with two dual cameras, in a 13MP + 2Mp combo, while the Redmi Note 5 has the more conventional setup, with a 13 MP camera and 5MP front camera. The dual cameras on the Honor 9 Lite should give you an edge for effects like blur, zoom or even auto focus.
Finally, the battery, were the Redmi Note 5 recovers some ground with a 4000 mAH versus the lighter 3000 mAH battery on the Honor 9 Lite. Thus, for really heavy phone users, it offers a longer period without charging.
With the battery out of the way, both the phones are pretty much head to head on almost every other metric, at 3/4 MB ram options, 32/64 GB storage, expandable to 128 GB in both cases, besides compatibility with Jiosims, an important consideration for the segment.
On the after sales service front, sometimes the area where reputations are actually made or broken, the tables get reversed, with the Honor brand having the advantage of an extended legacy in India, thanks to parent Huawei, while Xiaomi is the hard charging upstart playing catch up.
Verdict: We promised a close contest here, and that’s how it’s been. If you are a really intense smartphone user, you would do well to think hard about which one to pick, but for the average user, the Honor 9 Lite makes for a very interesting choice, with the dual cameras and better looks.